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nicholas chornay—The Tech
Much of the talk focused on the development on FiveThirtyEight, its beginnings at the New York Times, and Silver’s thoughts on its future. In 2007, Silver felt that politics was still “stuck in the stone age and not data-driven at all.” That year, he started blogging under a pseudonym, Poblano (“I always liked Mexican food”), for Daily Kos. Silver said that he went public later because he wanted to capitalize on it and also potentially shift careers. When Silver shifted his blog to the New York Times in mid 2010, daily traffic didn’t skyrocket — on his first day at the Times, he only got 500 pageviews. After a profile in Newsweek, he got 5,000 pageviews. He peaked on election day 2012 with 3 million page views — it has come back down since then. Silver’s three-year contract with the New York Times ends in July this year. Mnookin asked him about his future plans and whether he would continue into the 2016 election. “I’m in active discussions with the Times. It’s a great fit in a lot of ways. Jill is a perfect editor. Anything can happen in negotiation. But we’ll see. I’m pretty happy there,” Silver said. Silver talked about the pros and cons of working at the Times. Silver praised the graphics team that he works with to visually present his stories and praised the Times for its journalistic standards and reputation. However, he also spoke about how it could also be a downside. “Everyone comes after the Times. It’s the New York Yankees basically. The less obvious downside of that is that sometimes it’s hard to be kind of casual at the Times.” Silver says that with a blog, you can be “farting around.” But at the Times, “you can get in more trouble for that kind of thing. People treat it as more authoritative, so it’s harder to find that voice,” Silver said.
infographic by judy hsiang
The percentage of undergraduate alumni donors to the MIT Annual Fund has decreased slightly in recent years, while since 2010, the percentage of exclusively graduate alumni donors has remained relatively stable.
Sophie Chung
Atomic Bean Café is the perfect place to wind down. It’s great for its chill music, free Wi-Fi, and delicious Vietnamese coffee and specialty kale pastries.
Massachusetts department of transportation
This graphic was presented last March, as part of a contract update, showing one of the proposed layouts of the outbound side of Longfellow Bridge. During construction, half of the bridge will be closed at a time, and there will be only one lane of outbound traffic in addition to the sidewalk, bike lane, and temporary T tracks.
nicholas chornay—The Tech
Audience members had a chance to ask Silver questions during the second half of the event. Question topics ranged from digital journalism to the future of Silver’s career. When asked about would happen when other media outlets had their own “Nate Silvers,” Silver said competing against other models would not differentiate him much in the long term — instead he “like[s] the competition against the mainstream pundits who are terrible at what they do.”
nicholas chornay—The Tech
The event was held in the Bartos Theater in the basement of E15 (the Weisner Building/old Media Lab). The auditorium’s near-200 person capacity was exceeded before the event began; some audience members were left standing, and others had to view a live feed of the event on a screen set up outside the theater.
Infographic by Annia Pan
Ten members of The Tech’s Arts Department attempted to predict the Academy Awards, à la Nate Silver. We weren’t quite on target.
infographic by judy hsiang
MIT followed the national trend in declining alumni giving from 2011 to 2012. Capped donations do not count contributions past $100,000. Uncapped donations for 2011 and 2012 are not yet reliably available, as those include both commitments and pledges (future promises of giving).
Nicholas Chornay—The Tech
Statistician and political blogger Nate Silver appeared last night before a packed auditorium to talk about the role of statistics in elections and politics, as well as his own career. Silver’s fame skyrocketed late last year when his application of statistical techniques to polling data correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential vote in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia).
Courtesy of Michael Yadda/©A.M.P.A.S.
The Oscar for best actress goes to Jennifer Lawrence, for her role in Silver Linings Playbook.
Nicholas Chornay—The Tech
Nate Silver signed copies of his New York Times bestselling book The Signal and the Noise for audience members following his talk. Many audience members brought their own copies, but the book was also offered for sale outside the auditorium, providing a small consolation for attendees who were unable to get seats inside.
Nicholas chornay—The Tech
Journalist, writer, and MIT CMS associate professor Seth Mnookin moderated the Nate Silver talk, hosted by the MIT Communications Forum. Mnookin spent the first half of the two hour talk interviewing Silver and the remainder fielding questions from the audience, both in-person and via Twitter. In the first hour, Mnookin and Silver talked about the beginnings of Silver’s career — Silver worked at KPMG, a consulting firm, right after college for several years from 2000–2003. While working as a consultant there, he began playing around with online poker and worked on a major league baseball prediction site, PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), for which Silver began gaining fame. In his talk, Silver said that the reason PECOTA was better than its competitors was that it could “capture the range of forecasts,” and he tried to show the intermediate steps to get the probabilities he presented. In 2003, Silver sold PECOTA to Baseball Prospectus and began writing for it. He resigned from his consulting job at KPMG in 2004 and worked full-time for Baseball Prospectus.
Courtesy of Michael Yadda/©A.M.P.A.S.
Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Alexandre Desplat, Ben Affleck, Grant Heslov, and George Clooney accept the Oscar for Argo.
Vanessa Trevino
MIT’s Alexander C. Klein ’15 prepares for a spike against Springfield College’s Greg Falcone. MIT was tied against the first ranked Springfield, but eventually lost in the fifth set at a close 12-15.
Courtesy of Mark Linga
This spring, a 30-pound hand-carved pink granite sculpture has come to MIT. The nomadic piece changes title according to its location, and is currently titled “I am Mit, as I am in Mit, just like a lot of other people are” with deliberate mis-capitalization. While here, the sculpture will be “hosted” by a different community member each week, who will fill out a lending card to record its travels. The work is part of Amalia Pica’s current exhibition at The List Visual Arts Center, and explores concepts of collective memory, participatory art, and interventions into public space.